Topic: Groundwater

Overview

Groundwater

Unlike California’s majestic rivers and massive dams and conveyance systems, groundwater is out of sight and underground, though no less plentiful. The state’s enormous cache of underground water is a great natural resource and has contributed to the state becoming the nation’s top agricultural producer and leader in high-tech industries.

Groundwater is also increasingly relied upon by growing cities and thirsty farms, and it plays an important role in the future sustainability of California’s overall water supply. In an average year, roughly 40 percent of California’s water supply comes from groundwater.

A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires local and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Proposed pump fee raise delayed

The recommended fee hike would have elevated the rate from a monthly $30 per-acre foot pumped to $75/acre-foot, according to IWVGA acting general manager Don Zdeba. It would turn the tables on the IWVGA ending 2020 fiscal year with $465,000 in the red to ending in the positive by $209,000.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Monday Top of the Scroll: ‘It would mean total annihilation’ – Some farmers sell off fields ahead of groundwater law

Farmers are worried… Some feel angry, even betrayed by lawmakers and the environmental groups that have pressured them into what they see as ever-tightening regulations on the ag industry. While many disagree with SGMA, most do acknowledge that California’s unrestricted groundwater use has been unsustainable.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Las Vegas groundwater management a success, but overpumping issues loom

Net groundwater pumping peaked in 1968 at 86,000 acre-feet and started to go down in the 1980s, ’90s and 2000s, according to the state’s 2018 groundwater pumpage inventory for the aquifer. Thanks to the water authority’s efforts to reduce pumping, only 10% of the water used in the valley now comes from groundwater, while the rest comes from Lake Mead, Mack said.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Battle lines are drawn over oil drilling in California

The state is moving to ramp down oil production while Washington is expediting it. State officials are taking a closer look at the environmental and health threats — especially land, air and water contamination — posed by energy extraction, while Washington appears to have concluded that existing federal regulations sufficiently protect its sensitive landscapes as well as public health.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Megafarms and deeper wells are draining the water beneath rural Arizona – quietly, irreversibly

Unfettered pumping has taken a toll on the state’s aquifers for many years, but just as experts are calling for Arizona to develop plans to save its ancient underground water, pumping is accelerating and the problems are getting much worse. Big farming companies owned by out-of-state investors and foreign agriculture giants have descended on rural Arizona and snapped up farmland in areas where there is no limit on pumping.

Aquafornia news Clean Water Action

Blog: Q&A on groundwater sustainability with Jane Wagner-Tyack of the League of Women Voters

I assumed the different local water agencies were in regular contact with their customers about important issues like groundwater and that they would be happy to take advantage of the opportunity to educate the public about what was happening with SGMA. I learned that that was not the case. This is not a subject that engages people who don’t already have some reason to be concerned about it.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Q&A with Linda Estelí Méndez Barrientos

In my current research, I have been studying the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, commonly known as SGMA, in California. SGMA is one of the world’s largest-scale policy experiments on collective action to manage natural resources. At the same time, pervasively disparate access to water resources in the Central Valley made SGMA the perfect case study to test some of the power asymmetry theories I have been working on with my colleagues.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Finished Paso Robles groundwater sustainability plan awaits final approval

The 20-year groundwater plan, required by state law, aims to bring the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin back into balance. Between 1981 and 2011, the 684-square-mile aquifer serving 29 percent of San Luis Obispo County residents and 40 percent of its agriculture lost 369,000 acre-feet of water.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Reclamation seeks to restore sinking California canal

Federal authorities are considering a plan to repair a California canal in the San Joaquin Valley that lost half its capacity to move water because of sinking ground. … The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Dec. 3 published an environmental assessment detailing plans to repair, raise, and realign the Friant-Kern Canal, which it began building in 1949.

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Aquafornia news Reuters

Trading water: Can water shares help save California’s aquifers?

California is by far the United States’ most populous state, as well as its largest agricultural producer. Increasingly, it is also one of the country’s most parched places. But Edgar Terry, a fourth-generation farmer in Ventura County, just outside Los Angeles, thinks he has a key to reversing worsening water stress: establishing tradeable rights to shares of fast-depleting groundwater aquifers.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Pioneertown residents now have clean tap water — for the first time in decades

For three years, residents of the unincorporated San Bernardino County desert town have used twice-a-month shipments of bottled water because local wells were no longer meeting state standards for drinking water. … That changed in September, when work finished on a new pipeline that pulls clean water from a well 4 miles away in Yucca Valley.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Water in the bank: Coalition of agencies develops ‘historic’ sustainable groundwater plan

There’s progress to report in the momentous task of ensuring that San Joaquin County and surrounding communities have enough water to meet anticipated needs for the next 20 years.

Aquafornia news Chico News & Review

Testing the water

Back in 2016, California Water Service Co. took two of its groundwater wells in Chico out of service after tests showed they were contaminated with toxic flourinated chemicals known as PFAS—or per- and polyfluoralkyl substances—that have been linked to cancer and other adverse health effects. The move was done quietly.

Aquafornia news KCET

Paiute traditions inform water management practices in once-lush Owens Valley

By practicing careful and sustainable water management practices, the tribe has cultivated wild plants, including taboose, nahavita, as well as fruit trees and other vegetables. … However, starting in the mid-1800s with the arrival of European settlers making a claim to water rights in the Owens Valley, this once-lush area was transformed dramatically into a virtual desert in just decades.

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Water heads name advisers to groundwater agency

It wasn’t easy for water officials tasked with hammering out a plan to manage the Santa Clarita Valley’s groundwater to find seven people to serve as the agency’s advisory group, but on Monday, they approved a list of double the number they sought.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

An update on implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

At the November meeting of the California Water Commission, Taryn Ravazzini, DWR Deputy Director for Statewide Groundwater Management, updated the Commission on DWR’s recent activities and milestones related to SGMA.

Aquafornia news Champion Newspapers

Chino Hills wells could be offline three more years

It will be two years in December that the city of Chino Hills shut down its wells because of a new contamination level set by the state for the chemical 1,2,3-TCP (TCP) and it could take another three years before a filtration system can be built to treat the chemical and put the wells back in service, according to public works officials.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Farmers file claim asking for ‘cooperative approach’

The complaint filed in court on Nov. 19 asks the court to “impose a ‘physical solution’ amongst nine groundwater users in the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin (“Basin”) to preserve and protect the Basin’s water supply, the investment-backed expectations of agriculture, and the economy that is dependent upon that supply.”

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Embattled water district an economic boon for Arizona, homebuilders’ study says

A district that recharges renewable water supplies to allow new housing development brings in about $13.4 billion a year in economic benefits, says a study written for a homebuilders’ group. …  The report goes against the grain of recommendations made over the years by academics, environmentalists and others to limit enrollment of new subdivisions in the district, saying that could cause a major economic setback for the state.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Judge advances LA County’s spat with Monsanto over PCB cleanup

A federal judge Thursday denied Monsanto’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit seeking payment from the company to clean up cancer-causing chemicals from Los Angeles County waterways and storm sewer pipelines.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Lemoore breaks ground on ‘life-changing’ drinking water project

City officials gathered Thursday afternoon in Lemoore to break ground on construction of a new groundwater treatment plant project. … The City obtains all of its drinking water from local groundwater resources that are challenged by naturally-occurring water quality issues. These issues include elevated levels of arsenic, iron, ammonia, total organic carbon and color…

Aquafornia news EurekAlert

News release: A study compares how water is managed in Spain, California and Australia

The study demonstrated the following: big legislative reforms in water management in these three areas have always come about as a consequence of important droughts. … One of the main differences lies in how water ownership is managed and how the market is regulated in this field.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

State tells Napa County to form agency to monitor Napa Valley groundwater

California has told Napa County to form a local groundwater agency to ensure the underground reservoir that nurtures world-famous wine country is being kept in good shape. The county submitted more than 1,000 pages of documents to try to avoid that outcome.

Aquafornia news Coastalview.com

Opinion: Groundwater sustainability and climate action

By forming a Groundwater Sustainability Agency, we will be taking a step towards improved groundwater management in the Carpinteria Groundwater Basin… Through the development of a Climate Action Plan, we can examine ways to reduce our greenhouse gas production and prepare our water system to adapt to a changing environment.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

EPA sued over oil waste dumping in aquifer near Pismo Beach, California

The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, alleging the agency wrongly allowed oil waste to be dumped into a San Luis Obispo aquifer and ignored impacts to the California red-legged frog and other endangered species.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Study: Increase in cannabis cultivation or residential development could impact water resources

Researchers in Canada and the U.S. investigated potential reductions in streamflow, caused by groundwater pumping for cannabis irrigation, in the Navarro River in Mendocino County, California… Reporting in the journal Environmental Research Communications, they note the combination of cannabis cultivation and residential use may cause significant streamflow depletion, with the largest impacts in late summer when streams and local fish species depend most on groundwater inflows.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

A case study of the Fox Canyon groundwater market

Sarah Heard is Director of Conservation Economics & Finance with the California chapter of The Nature Conservancy… At the Groundwater Resources Association’s Western Groundwater Congress, Ms. Heard gave this presentation on the Fox Canyon Groundwater Market in Ventura County, the first groundwater market since the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: No new California fracking without scientific review, Newsom says

In a victory for critics of California’s oil drilling industry, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday stopped the approval of new hydraulic fracturing in the state until the permits for those projects can be reviewed by an independent panel of scientists. Newsom also imposed a moratorium on new permits for steam-injected oil drilling, another extraction method … linked to a massive petroleum spill in Kern County over the summer.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Bay City Beacon

Presidio’s new Tunnel Tops Park will connect ancient springs to SF Bay

Lew Stringer is leading a tour of the massive renovation of the entire watershed on the Presidio’s waterfront. The next string of pearls to be unearthed is Quartermaster Reach, a 7-acre salt marsh on the south side of Mason Street. … The $118 million park project, opening in late Spring of 2020, is part of a wetlands restoration movement across the Bay Area that will benefit all species – including us – facing the uncertain future of climate change.

Aquafornia news KVPR

Millions of gallons of oily water have surfaced in a Kern County oil field, and more keeps coming

Since July, at least a half dozen surface expressions have been reported into the state spill report database, including one in early November, totaling more than 2.7 million gallons of oil, water and mud. … Under strengthened state regulations, these surface expressions became illegal only in April of this year. But that doesn’t mean the public knows about all of them or how close they occur to communities…

Related article:

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Water scarcity in Nevada hits ‘critical mass’

Nevada’s director of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said Nevada has already reached the point of “critical mass” or the breaking point when it comes to the problem of water scarcity. … “We are up against that much strain in our water resources across the state,” Director Brad Crowell said.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Groundwater plan’s potential adverse impact on ag

When the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority technical and policy advisory committees reviewed a draft sustainability plan, it left many with questions and criticisms. The plan may also leave uncertainty for the valley’s agricultural industry. They face the brunt of the plan’s water sustainability requirements when the plan is implemented…

Aquafornia news CityLab

Under Newsom, oil well approvals are going up

As Donald Trump’s administration pushes to expand oil extraction in California, the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, has signed bill after bill limiting the practice. … But since taking office in January, Newsom’s own department of energy management has approved 33 percent more new oil and gas drilling permits than were approved under Newsom’s predecessor Jerry Brown over the same period in 2018

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Coachella water district approves $40 million loan for Oasis farm water pipeline

The Coachella Valley Water District on Monday approved taking on outside financing for what is believed to be the first time in its 101-year history for a $40 million pipeline to bring more Colorado River water to the region’s farmers, freeing up valuable groundwater for other uses.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Path To sustainability: Workshop covers plan for groundwater

Groundwater in Tulare County, especially in Porterville, has been a hot topic of discussion for quite sometime. As groundwater levels have begun to subside, a viable and woking plan to maintain the groundwater has been state mandated, and the implementation of this plan is set to be put in action by January 31, 2020. But what exactly is the plan, and who is at stake?

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Wanted: Big vision, small ego for water agency manager

Kern County Water Agency General Manager Curtis Creel will retire Dec. 7, leaving a very large and important hole to fill. The agency is the second largest contractor on the State Water Project and pays 25 percent of the bill for that massive endeavor, giving it a very big voice on most water issues.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Health of our families, communities depends on safe water

California took a historic step forward this summer with the passage of the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. This fund seeks to provide new targeted investments to end the state’s drinking water crisis, where one million Californians are impacted by unsafe water each year. Unfortunately, successful implementation of the fund is on a potential collision course with another California law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act…

Aquafornia news Salon.com

Trump EPA proposal guts restrictions on toxic herbicide linked to birth defects

At issue in the proposal posted yesterday by the EPA is the threshold level of atrazine, the second most widely used herbicide in the U.S. Manufactured by Syngenta, atrazine is primarily used in agriculture as a weedkiller on crops. It is not authorized for use in the European Union, as the body said there wasn’t enough data to prove it wouldn’t have a harmful effect on groundwater.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Ancient aquifers are dropping as Tucson suburbs pump groundwater

Since 2009, the water level has dropped 7.3 feet a year in one of two SaddleBrooke Ranch wells and 1.7 feet a year in the other, says the Arizona Water Co., a private utility serving the development. This is one of many suburban developments surrounding Tucson where underground water tables are falling and are likely to fall much farther over the next century, state records show.

Aquafornia news Livermore Independent

Pleasanton OKs study to treat chemicals found in water wells

Pleasanton’s water utility shut down a drinking water well earlier this year after detecting unsafe levels of toxic chemicals linked to adverse health effects, including cancer and birth defects.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Vacaville joins broader effort for single groundwater sustainability plan

City Council members – sitting as the directors of the Vacaville Groundwater Sustainability Agency – approved a collaboration agreement Tuesday with the other sustainability agencies in the Solano Subbasin in order to keep the groundwater grant funding flowing.

Aquafornia news Seeking Alpha

Blog: Farmageddon in California: Why J.G. Boswell is set to benefit from California’s ‘catastrophic’ water law

This article will provide readers with a background on why the 2014 SGMA legislation was passed, and what the implications are for J.G. Boswell which has both surface and groundwater rights in California.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: SGMA: State Board to introduce streamlined permitting process for groundwater recharge

The streamlined permitting process is an important component of Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation, as it may assist Groundwater Sustainability Agencies in more efficiently obtaining the necessary water rights to divert and recharge water during high flow events.

Aquafornia news Elk Grove Citizen

Rural water district holds first election since 1970s

The district’s decades-long election drought occurred as a result of an insufficient number of candidates to require elections. … Changes in the district’s operations led to a greater number of candidates for the recent election. The district’s biggest issue is implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act …

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Pinal County has plenty of water. We just need to prioritize demand

The Arizona Department of Water Resources is working on revising a model based on outdated assumptions and incomplete data that have perpetuated the myth that Pinal County is facing a water shortage. In fact, Pinal County has plenty of water for today, tomorrow and 100 years from now.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Drilling boom adds stress to U.S. Western water supplies: report

About 60% of federal oil and gas drilling leases offered since 2017 are located in areas that are at risk of shortages and droughts, according to a report released on Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Opinion: As the Vegas pipeline fight persists, remember Owens Valley

The Southern Nevada Water Authority’s Las Vegas water grab and pipeline –– which has been in various stages of development since 1989 –– would forever tarnish public lands and waters in Eastern Nevada and Western Utah. The idea is a direct descendant to the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Groundwater: Deadline nears for completion of local plans

With roughly two and a half months remaining before a state-mandated deadline, local agencies overseeing critically overdrafted groundwater basins are working to finalize sustainability plans as required by a 2014 state law.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Grist.org

Wind and solar can save the planet — can they save our water supply, too?

Hydropower facilities store water in reservoirs in order to release it in a constant flow and produce energy consistently. If wind turbines and solar panels, paired with battery storage, took the pressure off of these facilities to fill the needs of the grid during a drought, more of that water could be released downstream for agricultural use, preventing further groundwater depletion.

Aquafornia news KUNR

Audio: What’s in the water?

In this episode, we explore a carcinogen called 1,2,3 Tetracholorpropane, which ended up in the water below California’s Central Valley. … We also hear from John Hadder and Dr. Glenn Miller, with Great Basin Resource Watch, about how some of the groundwater in Nevada became contaminated due to mining operations near Yerington.

Aquafornia news KBAK

Underground water impacting farmland property value

Kern County is seeing a drop in agricultural property value. The water crisis plaguing the state is also affecting the value of farms here in Kern County. Michael Ming, Lead Appraiser for Alliance Ag Services, said groundwater sustainability efforts have proven to be a big challenge.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Sonoma County drills wells to study groundwater sustainability

The shallow wells Sonoma County’s water agency is drilling near 11 waterways have nothing to do with delivering water to 600,000 residents of Sonoma and Marin counties. Instead, the 21 wells will serve as measuring sticks to determine whether pumping groundwater in the county’s three basins … is curbing the flow in creeks inhabited by federally protected fish and other species.

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Rosamond treatment plant gets upgrade

The revamped and expanded plant is expected to be operational in spring 2021 and will do so with a new name — The Rosamond CSD Water Reclamation Plant — to better describe its ultimate purpose. In addition to handling the community’s wastewater disposal, the plant will recharge the underlying groundwater basin, providing additional groundwater for the District to pump.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Putting the ‘flood’ in Flood-MAR: reducing flood risk while replenishing aquifers

Flood-MAR is recognized as an emerging water management strategy that can provide broad benefits for Californians and the ecosystems of the state, including water supply reliability, flood risk reduction, drought preparedness, aquifer replenishment, water quality improvement, and climate change adaption.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

The disconnect between groundwater legal systems and groundwater hydrology

The Groundwater Resources Association’s 2019 Western Groundwater Congress featured David Sandino, Senior Staff Counsel at the Department of Water Resources, who spoke about the disconnect between legal groundwater systems and how the system actually works; and Maurice Hall, Associate Vice President of Ecosystems-Water at the Environmental Defense Fund, who spoke of how more holistic and inclusive groundwater management can increase the resilience of our water supply…

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Nevada tribes oppose removal of American Indian site history document

The Goshute, Ely and Duckwater Shoshone tribes all consider the site, known as the swamp cedars, sacred and believe the trees are threatened by a proposal to pipe groundwater to Las Vegas. … Tribal members are pushing for greater recognition of the site in order to strengthen their case against Southern Nevada Water Authority’s proposal to pipe groundwater from the area to Las Vegas. 

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Water officials work to assist recharge projects

Flood-managed aquifer recharge involves moving floodwater from surface streams onto land where it could percolate into a groundwater basin. Though the concept sounds simple, it brings complications that include managing the floodwater, finding appropriate land to accept it and establishing rights to the water involved.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Farmers urged to think big and small to survive groundwater cutbacks

The thinking started small and then grew much bigger at a gathering Tuesday in Bakersfield intended to provide a “survival toolkit” for farmers and water managers facing drastic restrictions on Central Valley groundwater pumping. … By the end of the day, however, isolationism gave way to calls for unity as speakers asserted that the only real solution was to increase the region’s water supply by as much as 10 million acre-feet per year on average by diverting water south from the Sacramento Delta.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Improving nutrient management in California

In recent years the idea of nutrient management has been become even more important with increasing regulations related to nitrate levels in groundwater. Cooperation between water agencies and CDFA has helped to provide better education and outreach for the development of balance sheets for nutrient management.

Aquafornia news ABC News Bakersfield

California health: Can desalinated water help Kern County’s water needs?

If California goes into another drought and Kern County needs an extra supply of water, Santa Barbara is open to partnering with communities like Kern County. “We’re able to do exchanges with people, so you could in theory have someone in the Central Valley be a partner in desal,” said Joshua Haggmark, water resource manager for Santa Barbara.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Paradise-Chico water pipe study killed

The study of whether it makes sense to build a pipe to carry water from Paradise to Chico has died, at least for now. … The idea was that Cal Water’s Chico Division would buy Paradise Irrigation District water, and reduce its total dependence on wells. … The pipe would also provide a buyer for PID water, something the district needs to survive. Most of its customers were burned out by the Camp Fire.

Aquafornia news Santa Ynez Valley News

Supplemental EIR clears way for fracking, oil drilling in Santa Barbara County

A supplemental environmental impact report on hydraulic fracturing released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management found no significant impacts, and plans for leasing 1.2 million acres for oil and gas development in eight counties, including Santa Barbara County, will not change.

Related article:

Aquafornia news KEYT

San Luis Obispo County to conduct aerial survey of Paso Basin groundwater

The county of San Luis Obispo announced plans to map the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. … People who live in Creston, Shandon, and Whitely Gardens may see a low flying helicopter towing a large hexagonal frame when work begins.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Debate: Does watering Arizona’s suburbs promote affordable housing or urban sprawl?

To authors of a new, highly critical study, Arizona’s system of groundwater management encourages urban sprawl. But to an official and lobbyist for a homebuilders group, the system encourages construction of affordable housing.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

In Napa Valley, winemakers fight climate change on all fronts

Wine producers are grappling with a maelstrom caused by a warming planet: heat waves, droughts, cold snaps, wildfires and more.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: No heat, no light? Not so bad. No water? Much worse

When the lights went out this week, Susan Illich of Sebastopol didn’t just lose power. She also lost water. That’s because, like thousands of residents in Sonoma County, she relies on a private well that operates with an electric pump. … “Water puts out fire,” she said. “My basic rights to fend off fire that could have killed me and my pets and damaged my home was obstructed.”

Related article:

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

For California well owners, clean water is hard to get as state, local hurdles remain

As the state focuses on providing clean and affordable drinking water for millions of residents, those on private wells typically face an uphill battle. Private well owners confront significant financial challenges digging new wells, and connecting to a public water system involves a daunting local and state bureaucratic process…

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Feds push to open 1 million acres to fracking in California

The Trump administration unveiled a plan to open another million acres in California to oil and gas development and fracking, one day after being sued by conservationists for similar plans in a different part of the state. The Bureau of Land Management released its environmental analysis Thursday concluding that hydraulic fracturing and oil and gas extraction in counties located in the south state do not conflict with the land management goals of the agency.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Gov. Bruce Babbitt: Rural counties should take charge of groundwater

Babbitt spoke at a conference of county supervisors from across Arizona Tuesday, calling for new legislation that would give county officials the authority to manage groundwater. He said while the 1980 law has had “a lot of success” in managing groundwater in urban areas from Phoenix to Tucson, its main flaw has been leaving groundwater pumping unregulated in rural parts of the state.

Aquafornia news UC Merced News

Blog: Water yield from forest thinning depends on how, where and how much

Even a little forest management significantly increases water runoff in the Central Sierra Nevada and other semi-arid regions, while drier forests need more extensive treatments, according to a new study published recently in the journal Ecohydrology.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

New laws may result in water rate increases

In order to keep up with the state’s underground water recharge laws, sooner or later, local water rates will likely need to increase. That was the message local water management officials gave in a joint presentation at the Oct. 21 Selma City Council.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Green groups sue Trump administration over California drilling plan

Two environmental groups sued the Trump administration on Wednesday over its plan to open up more than 720,000 acres (291,370 hectares) of federal land in California for oil and gas development.

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

County drinking water wells contaminated by chemicals

Drinking water wells in two areas of San Luis Obispo County are contaminated with potentially toxic “forever chemicals,” according to recently released results of state water testing. The local testing found that 15 wells in San Luis Obispo and Atascadero had levels high enough to require notification to water system governing boards.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Electric vehicles: How lithium could be California’s next ‘gold rush’

The salty gunk and steam passing through the maze of pipes can produces up to 55 megawatts of electricity. It comes from under the shores of the Salton Sea, a man-made lake in the far southeastern desert of California. Benson, chief operating officer of the geothermal power producer EnergySource, pointed to a white shipping container, where fiberglass tanks are being used to pull lithium out of the same brine from the sandstone depths.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Disadvantaged communities claim a stake in state groundwater overhaul

A tiny community on the outskirts of the City of Sanger, Tombstone is a bellwether for groundwater issues… Most of the community’s 40 or so homes get their drinking water from shallow domestic wells, which can be vulnerable to both aquifer contaminants and falling groundwater levels.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Colorado River Basin story map highlights importance of managing water below the ground

EDF created an online story map … to provide a more holistic view of groundwater supplies and challenges in the seven-state Colorado River Basin (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming), drawing from recent research. Here are four key highlights from the story map that demonstrate the importance of groundwater and the challenges of groundwater management in the arid West:

Aquafornia news Clean Water Action

Blog: Perspectives on groundwater sustainability: Adam Livingston with Sequoia Riverlands Trust

Adam Livingston is the Director of Planning and Policy at the Sequoia Riverlands Trust (SRT). … Clean Water Action’s Communication’s Manager, Nina Foushee, interviewed Adam about the role of land trusts in sustainable groundwater management.

Aquafornia news Downey Brand

Blog: PFAS are here: First round of results show PFAS in California drinking water supply wells

Results from the first phase of sampling drinking water supply wells for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were recently published by the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and show reportable levels at approximately 190 or 35% of the 570 wells tested.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

CV-SALTS plan to bring new requirements

Action by the state water board sets in motion a 35-year program of activity and research to address nitrate and salt content in Central Valley groundwater, in order to achieve water-quality objectives.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Less groundwater likely available

The East Tule Groundwater Sustainability Water Agency is racing the clock when it comes to meeting the state’s requirements by next year but the message is this: Those who use groundwater will have to prepare for the possibility of pumping 10 percent less than they have in the past, beginning as soon as next year.

Aquafornia news UCLA

News release: On water sustainability, L.A. County earns C+ from UCLA environmental report card

Dismal grades for polluted groundwater and water bodies like the Los Angeles River brought down the overall average grade in the 2019 Sustainable LA Grand Challenge Environmental Report Card for Los Angeles County on Water.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Change in California water will prevent catastrophe, build a more resilient valley

Change is hard. It’s human nature to resist it. So it’s not surprising that some Central Valley farmers and water managers are raising alarm bells about the most sweeping change to state water law in a century, saying in a recent Fresno Bee series that the consequences will be “excruciating” and “catastrophic.”

Aquafornia news Capital Press

New market would pay farmers for conservation practices

The initiative to establish an ecosystem marketplace began in 2017 with the Noble Research Institute, which started working on developing protocols to verify carbon sequestration and improved water quality…

Aquafornia news EOS.org

The bigger they are, the harder they fall

New research tracking 1.8 million trees found that tall trees died at more than twice the rate of smaller ones toward the end of extreme and persistent drought.

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

News release: The ups and downs of groundwater levels after the July 2019 ridgecrest earthquakes

Effects from the two July 2019 Ridgecrest, CA earthquakes were observed in several USGS continuous groundwater-level monitoring sites in California, Nevada, and Arizona.

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond
Workshop scheduled for Feb. 20 in Sacramento with optional tour Feb. 21

The Water Education Foundation’s Water 101 Workshop, one of our most popular events, offers attendees the opportunity to deepen their understanding of California’s water history, laws, geography and politics.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the one-day workshop is scheduled for Thursday, February 20 and will also cover the latest on the most compelling issues in California water. 

McGeorge School of Law
3327 5th Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817
Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

As developers built homes, Arizona groundwater levels fell. It can’t continue, report says

A set of water rules that has fueled rapid growth in Arizona’s suburbs is riddled with weaknesses, according to a new report by researchers at Arizona State University, who argue the system needs to be overhauled to protect homeowners from rising costs and to ensure sufficient water supplies for the future.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

State letter chides San Luis Obispo County for diminished role of agriculture in groundwater plan

The California State Board of Food and Agriculture called out San Luis Obispo County in a letter expressing concern about irrigated agriculture’s “limited” involvement in crafting groundwater plans over the Paso Robles basin.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Latest Western Water explores potential for managed aquifer recharge to aid California’s groundwater basins

To survive the next drought and meet the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability law, California is going to have to put more water back in the ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging overpumped aquifers is no easy task.

Aquafornia news Chico News & Review

Environmental group concerned about domestic wells as farmers propose new groundwater district

Jim Brobeck, water policy analyst for AquAlliance, said the Agricultural Groundwater Users of Butte County may not have the public’s best interests in mind. The priority of farmers, Brobeck said, is to make sure they have water in their wells, not to protect the shallowest portion of an aquifer. Water purveyors, he said, like to “exercise” aquifers and may well do so to the point where the public suffers.

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Santa Clarita Valley Water opens six new wells near Bakersfield, uncorking “banked” water

Under an agreement to “bank” water outside of the Santa Clarita Valley, local water officials … and their water banking partners, Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District and Irvine Ranch Water District, opened six new groundwater wells and a conveyance system to the Cross Valley Canal in Kern County.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California Water Board OKs 35-year plan to tackle farm pollution

A decade in the making, regulators on Wednesday approved new rules that will require the agricultural industry and others to shield nitrates and salt from seeping into groundwater supplies. “This is huge,” said Patrick Pulupa, executive officer of the Central Valley Water Quality Control Board.

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Aquafornia news KEYT

Santa Barbara County board of supervisors votes to approve resolution opposing oil drilling

The Santa Barbara County board of supervisors is taking a stand against the Trump administration. The resolution was sponsored by First District County Supervisor Gregg Hart in response to the Trump Administration’s plan to open more than one million acres of lands throughout the coastal and interior regions of central California to new oil drilling and fracking.

Announcement

Agenda Posted for Oct. 30 Water Summit; Join the Waitlist!
Keynote speakers include California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot and Scripps Atmospheric River Researcher Marty Ralph

A diverse roster of top policymakers and water experts are on the agenda for the Foundation’s 36th annual Water Summit. The conference, Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning, will feature compelling conversations reflecting on upcoming regulatory deadlines and efforts to improve water management and policy in the face of natural disasters.

Tickets for the Water Summit are sold out, but by joining the waitlist we can let you know when spaces open via cancellations.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: As groundwater law plows forward, small farmers seek more engagement

Dennis Hutson worries small farmers may not have the resources to adapt to the potentially strict water allocations and cutbacks that might be coming. Their livelihoods and identities may be at stake. “You grow things a certain way, and then all of a sudden you don’t have access to as much water as you would like in order to grow what you grow,” he says, “and now you’re kind of out of sorts.”

Aquafornia news KQED News

New Chevron crude spills emerge in Kern County oil field

Thousands of gallons of crude petroleum began spouting out of the ground near a part of Chevron’s steam injection well network in a Kern County oil field over the weekend … in the same area where a larger uncontrolled release of 234,000 gallons of oil has taken place since August.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Ventura approves $200 million wastewater recycling plan

The Ventura City Council approved a $200 million-plus plan Monday that will give the city more drinking water and greatly reduce the treated wastewater its sewer plant releases into the Santa Clara River estuary. The big-ticket item in the city’s plan is a new plant that will take wastewater that once went into the estuary and treat it to drinking water standards…

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Salinas Valley, Marina groundwater plans under public review, at odds

Groundwater management plans have been released for public review by both the Salinas Valley and City of Marina groundwater sustainability agencies … with no agreement between the two agencies in place and California American Water’s desalination project at the center of a dispute.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

State water officials to vote on valley-wide plan to reduce nitrate and salt

Later this week, the State Water Resources Control Board will vote on a long-anticipated plan to reduce some of the pollutants flowing into Central Valley water. However, not everyone agrees on the details.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California finds widespread PFAS contamination in water sources

Nearly 300 drinking water wells and other water sources in California have traces of toxic chemicals linked to cancer, new state testing has found. … State officials released the water quality results on Monday, the first step in what’s likely to be a years-long effort to track the scale of the contamination and pinpoint its sources.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Long-term projections show insufficient groundwater in Pinal County, Arizona

Arizona’s top water official presented new long-term projections Friday showing that Pinal County doesn’t have enough groundwater to provide for the fast-growing area’s cities, farms and many planned subdivisions over the coming decades.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Business Journal

California American Water seeks Air Force reimbursement for contamination cleanup

A provider of drinking water in Sacramento County is seeking reimbursement from the U.S. Air Force for a filtration system it installed to take contaminants out of groundwater near the former Mather Air Force Base.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Multi-million dollar plan proposed to change Kings County groundwater management

Kings County’s groundwater management will begin a 20-year transformation in 2020. Five local groundwater agencies presented more information behind the groundwater sustainability plan in a public outreach meeting Thursday night.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California governor signs bill limiting oil, gas development

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday signed a law intended to counter Trump administration plans to increase oil and gas production on protected public land. The measure bars any California leasing authority from allowing pipelines or other oil and gas infrastructure to be built on state property. It makes it difficult for drilling to occur because federally protected areas are adjacent to state-owned land.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Audio: What is ‘SGMA?’ A primer on California’s groundwater overhaul law

While many hail the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act as a success in state legislation and others say the law represents government overreach, most seem to agree: It could change agriculture and the economy in the San Joaquin Valley in a very big way. In this interview, we talk about the nuts and bolts of SGMA with Stephanie Anagnoson, Director of Water and Natural Resources with Madera County.

Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Court dismisses lawsuit against Crystal Geyser, county

The court denied the petitioner’s challenge, which questioned the validity of the county’s Environmental Impact Report, according to the Statement of Decision. Crystal Geyser purchased the former Coca Cola water bottling facility on Ski Village Drive in 2013 with hopes of bottle sparkling spring water and eventually producing Juice Squeeze drinks there.

Aquafornia news EOS.org

Wildfires affect water resources long after the smoke clears

The number of wildfires burning across the western United States over the past 6 decades has been steadily increasing, and those fires are growing larger and more severe, especially in mountain areas where more than 65% of clean water resources for the West’s 75 million people originate. What happens when fires intersect water resources is the subject of two new papers in Hydrological Processes.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Arsenic in well water draws EPA to Oasis Mobile Home Park

Conditions tipped from bleak into officially alarming in late August when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that the water residents drink, cook with and bathe in had been contaminated with arsenic at 10 times the allowable limit…

Aquafornia news Western Water

Friday Top of the Scroll: Recharging depleted aquifers no easy task, but it’s key to California’s water supply future

To survive the next drought and meet the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability law, California is going to have to put more water back in the ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging overpumped aquifers is no easy task.

Western Water Gary Pitzer California Groundwater Map Gary Pitzer

Recharging Depleted Aquifers No Easy Task, But It’s Key To California’s Water Supply Future
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: A UC Berkeley symposium explores approaches and challenges to managed aquifer recharge around the West

A water recharge basin in Southern California's Coachella Valley. To survive the next drought and meet the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability law, California is going to have to put more water back in the ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging overpumped aquifers is no easy task.

Successfully recharging aquifers could bring multiple benefits for farms and wildlife and help restore the vital interconnection between groundwater and rivers or streams. As local areas around California draft their groundwater sustainability plans, though, landowners in the hardest hit regions of the state know they will have to reduce pumping to address the chronic overdraft in which millions of acre-feet more are withdrawn than are naturally recharged.

Tour Nick Gray

Northern California Tour 2020
Field Trip - October 14-16

Explore the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as we learn about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour participants will get an on-site update of Oroville Dam spillway repairs.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Editorial: Trump forcibly expands oil and gas drilling in California. Will Newsom fight back?

The majority of California’s elected leaders oppose Trump’s plans. A majority of Californians also believes the state should ban the dangerous practice called “fracking,” which injects poisonous, cancer-causing chemicals deep into the ground.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Dispute resolution processes: Thinking through SGMA implementation

Building the capacity to resolve disputes and work together is critical for a sustainable water future. However, recent analysis conducted by Water in the West … suggests that alternative dispute resolution processes are rarely used even when included in water management agreements.

Aquafornia news The Atlantic

Inside California’s Central Valley water crisis

California’s Central Valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the United States… But a seven-year drought has threatened the viability of the valley’s farmland, and many rural communities have suffered greatly as a result. Joris Debeij’s short documentary When a Town Runs Dry offers a window into the front lines of the water crisis.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: Groundwater governance Q&A with Anita Milman

An expert in water governance, Anita Milman’s research focuses on understanding the interplay of technical, institutional and social dimensions of water within governance processes. … Below, Milman discusses keys to successful groundwater governance, implications toward achieving water security and her research activities at Stanford. 

Aquafornia news The Business Journal

We’re back, baby! Fresno top ag county once again

A big part of the reason for Fresno County falling short of the No. 1 ranking those years was due to California’s five-year drought that began in late 2011— the worst in the state’s recorded history — causing major water shortages in the western end of Fresno County that forced farmers there to limit their farming or let fields go fallow.

Aquafornia news Business Insider

Orange County’s pure drinking water comes from filtered sewage

Whenever I visit my hometown of Orange County, California, I get to sip some of the purest drinking water in the US. The quality is sometimes hard to spot, since many drinking-water contaminants are odorless, tasteless, and invisible to the human eye. Even in cities where the water is contaminated with lead, residents have reported that their taps are crystal clear. But in Orange County, the water is actually as clean as it looks.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Opinion: Protecting our groundwater, and our future

As a berry farmer in Coastal California my entire life, I have been a vocal supporter of groundwater regulation. … We are now seeing the profound risk of losing this critical resource, unless we collectively act soon to preserve groundwater resources for both the next decade and future generations.

Aquafornia news ScienceDaily

Antibiotic resistant genes prevalent in groundwater

The spread of antibiotic resistant genes (ARGs) through the water system could put public safety at-risk. Researchers studied and compared samples from an advanced groundwater treatment facility in California and groundwater aquifers… They found that the advanced groundwater treatment facility reduced nearly all targeted ARGs to below detection limits, but groundwater samples had a ubiquitous presence of ARGs …

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Groundwater overdraft numbers ‘don’t add up,’ and that’s a big problem

Here in Kern County, state-mandated water budgets presented by several large ag water districts and groundwater sustainability agencies have painted a far rosier groundwater picture. So rosy, the numbers simply couldn’t be believed…

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

East Kaweah sets hearing for groundwater plan acceptance

Based on the most detailed data they have available, the East Kaweah has a supply of 125,000 acre feet per year of ground water available for use without threatening overdraft. However, Hagman notes that the East Kaweah has overdrafted their portion of the basin by 28,000 acre feet on average, per year.

Aquafornia news Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory

Blog: How groundwater management activities can affect water quantity and quality

The paper is intended to help groundwater managers avoid inadvertently contaminating water supplies as they change management practices to comply with California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. It focuses on natural contaminants such as arsenic, chromium, and uranium, as well as contaminants that can pose a threat to human and ecosystem health…

Aquafornia news Rich Pauloo

Blog: Race To The Bottom

There simply isn’t enough water in any given year to support all of the crops and livestock, so farmers and ranchers depend on groundwater pumped from deep, underground aquifers. Groundwater, like oil, is a limited resource, and in California it’s consumed at an alarming rate.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

River flows are falling worldwide as groundwater is depleted

A new study released Wednesday says that diminishing groundwater is causing the level of streams and rivers to fall as well. Like the shrinking aquifers, surface water is critical to farms, towns and cities for everything from food to trade to energy production. … In watersheds such as California’s Central Valley, the Midwestern U.S.’s high plains, the Upper Ganges and the Indus in South Asia, groundwater is already being depleted.

Related article:

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California fines Chevron $2.7M for Cymric oil spills in Kern County

California on Wednesday fined Chevron more than $2.7 million for allowing an oil spill at the Cymric Oil Field in Kern County that lasted 113 days and covered almost an acre of a dry streambed.

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Water storage agreements OK’d

The Antelope Valley Watermaster gave preliminary approval to the first two water storage agreements to come before the Board tasked with overseeing the 2015 court settlement that set limits on groundwater pumping for users across the Valley.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Appeals court dismisses Klamath groundwater dispute

The Oregon Court of Appeals won’t resolve a dispute over the impact of Klamath basin wells on surface waters due to newly imposed regulations in the area. The appellate court has dismissed the case because it’s moot and unworthy of review after the Oregon water regulators adopted different rules governing surface water interference from wells in the Upper Klamath basin earlier this year.

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

Can dry farming help save California’s vineyards?

California’s most recent drought lasted many long, parched years… There was plenty of suffering to go around, but some vineyards fared less terribly than others—historic parcels east of San Francisco, in Contra Costa County, for example. Planted at the turn of the last century by Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish immigrants, they rely on a technique called dry farming rather than irrigation.

Announcement

Water Summit Panel to Focus on Nexus of Fire and Water in the Wildland-Urban Interface
Oct. 30 Event Will Feature the Latest on Policy, Planning and Management from Key Stakeholders, Experts

California experienced one of the most deadly and destructive wildfire years on record in 2018, with several major fires occurring in the wildland-urban interface (WUI). These areas, where communities are in close proximity to undeveloped land at high risk of wildfire, have felt devastating effects of these disasters, including direct impacts to water infrastructure and supplies.

One panel at our 2019 Water Summit Oct. 30 in Sacramento will feature speakers from water agencies who came face-to-face with two major fires: The Camp Fire that destroyed most of the town of Paradise in Northern California, and the Woolsey Fire in the Southern California coastal mountains. They’ll talk about their experiences and what lessons they learned. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Resnicks set a record with Caltech gift, but altruism isn’t the whole story

Although the $750 million represents a personal gift to Caltech rather than a corporate gift from the Resnicks’ principal corporate entity, The Wonderful Company, they’re engaged through that company in some arguably unsustainable environmental practices.

Aquafornia news Paso Robles Daily News

Templeton Community Services District celebrates new drought-resistant water supply project

The project, called the Upper Salinas River Basin Conjunctive Use Project, captures existing wastewater flows generated within the eastside of the District and will return these flows back to the Meadowbrook Wastewater Treatment Plant. The wastewater undergoes treatment and is then discharged into the river alluvium that contains the Salinas River underflow providing subsequent conveyance to district wells…

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

The Santa Cruz River starts thriving again, water supply is restored

The river is carrying year-round flows down a stretch on the Tohono O’odham Nation’s San Xavier District that until recently was dry for more than 70 years except after big rains. And here, unlike through downtown Tucson, the water is once again coming up from the aquifer naturally — not being added artificially through effluent.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

IWVGA board talks future administrative structure

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority rolled out concepts for an administrative structure that could eventually cement the new agency as an independent entity — should money ever be found to fund them.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Inside the desert resort rethinking water conservation

When the Coachella Valley became a hub of tourism in the 20th century, spas and resorts were built around springs, whose unusually lithium-rich waters were touted as therapeutic. There are more than 20 such establishments in the 30 square miles that make up Desert Hot Springs, one of which is the recently-refreshed Two Bunch Palms resort.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: ‘Farming the sun:’ As water goes scarce, can solar farms prop up the Valley?

On the Changala family farm in Tulare County, the past and future are separated by a dirt road and a barbed-wire fence. On the south side sits a wheat field. On the north, a solar farm, built three years ago, sending electricity to thousands of Southern Californians. Alan Changala sees little difference between the two.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California must embrace groundwater management, and expand it

Over the last five years, more than 250 groundwater sustainability agencies have formed to manage groundwater at the local level and dozens of groundwater sustainability plans are in progress. … So what do we still need to make the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act a success?

Western Water Gary Pitzer California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Often Short of Water, California’s Southern Central Coast Builds Toward A Drought-Proof Supply
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Water agencies in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo counties look to seawater, recycled water to protect against water shortages

The spillway at Lake Cachuma in central Santa Barbara County. Drought in 2016 plunged its storage to about 8 percent of capacity.The southern part of California’s Central Coast from San Luis Obispo County to Ventura County, home to about 1.5 million people, is blessed with a pleasing Mediterranean climate and a picturesque terrain. Yet while its unique geography abounds in beauty, the area perpetually struggles with drought.

Indeed, while the rest of California breathed a sigh of relief with the return of wet weather after the severe drought of 2012–2016, places such as Santa Barbara still grappled with dry conditions.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Federal study finds oilfield activity lowered groundwater quality in western Kern

A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey concludes oilfield activity has lowered the quality of groundwater in western Kern County, making it saltier and possibly affecting nearby irrigation sources but not harming drinking water.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

How the Central Valley became the ‘Appalachia of the West.’ Now, new threats loom for economy

Water shortages, already the scourge of the Valley, are about to get worse. A powerful state law called the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will curb access to water and shrink agriculture’s footprint in the next two decades. Thousands of acres will be turned into solar-energy farms and other non-agricultural uses. The long-term effect of climate change, meanwhile, will squeeze water supplies even more.

Announcement

Scripps Scientist Marty Ralph to Discuss Atmospheric Rivers in Opening Keynote at Water Summit
Early bird pricing ends today for the 2019 Water Summit “Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning"

Oroville Dam spillway emergencyAtmospheric rivers, the narrow bands of moisture that ferry precipitation across the Pacific Ocean to the West Coast, are necessary to keep California’s water reservoirs full.

However, some of them are dangerous because the extreme rainfall and wind can cause catastrophic flooding and damage, much like what happened in 2017 with Oroville Dam’s spillway.

Learn the latest about atmospheric river research and forecasting at our 2019 Water Summit on Oct. 30 in Sacramento, where prominent research meteorologist Marty Ralph will give the opening keynote.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California farmers fear ‘catastrophe’ from water restrictions

Starting next January, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will require farmers to gradually rein in the amount of groundwater they pump from their wells. It could devastate the economy of the entire San Joaquin Valley. In a region where agriculture is king — and the ability to extract the water beneath one’s soil has been practically a birthright — a difficult reckoning is coming.

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Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Mid-Santa Cruz County groundwater protection planning winds down

A group of policymakers planning for the long-term water supply sustainability of Santa Cruz County’s mid-county region are in their final leg of a multi-year process. … The mid-county region, dependent on rainwater-refreshed underground aquifers supplying customers from 41st Avenue to La Selva Beach, has been drawing more water than is naturally replenished since the mid-1980s…

Aquafornia news The Atlantic

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Silicon Valley is one of the most polluted places in the country

Santa Clara County has 23 active Superfund sites, more than any other county in the United States. … The sites came to the attention of the EPA after groundwater testing in the area revealed that toxic chemicals—notably, a solvent called trichloroethylene—were present, possibly from leaking pipes or underground storage tanks.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Las Vegas water use has dropped, but its affluent residents remain copious consumers

Total and per-capita water use in Southern Nevada has declined over the last decade, even as the region’s population has increased by 14%. But water use among the biggest water users — some of the valley’s wealthiest, most prominent residents — has held steady.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Ninth Circuit voids geothermal leases on sacred tribal land

In a decision hailed by some as a victory for tribal rights and ecological preservation, the Ninth Circuit on Thursday upheld voiding 40-year lease extensions for geothermal energy production on 26 plots of California land deemed sacred by Native Americans.

Aquafornia news Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

California’s chronic water overuse leads to sinking towns, arsenic pollution

When you walk through Jeannie Williams’s sunny orchard, you don’t notice anything wrong. But the problem’s there, underfoot. The land around her — about 250 square kilometres — is sinking. “It’s frightening,” Williams says. “Is the land going to come back up? I don’t know.”

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Study: Inadequate groundwater for current and potential demands in basin targeted by Las Vegas

There is not enough water to support important wetlands and springs in a semi-arid desert ecosystem that straddles the Nevada-Utah border if all permitted and proposed groundwater rights are put to use, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study of the Snake Valley. There also may not be enough groundwater to satisfy the desires of the Las Vegas area, whose water agencies have eyed the valley for decades…

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Eyes in the sky help farmers on the ground

Recent years have brought severe droughts that have forced farmers to become more efficient with water use. With nearby Silicon Valley teeming with the promise of efficiency and data-fueled intelligence, a natural relationship between technology and agriculture has developed.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California farms, ranches strive to adapt as climate warms — it’s a matter of survival

Every degree of warming is expected to worsen what, in many ways, is already a crisis for the state’s multibillion-dollar agricultural industry. And a crisis here is a problem everywhere, given that California produces 50% of the nation’s fruits and vegetables and 90% of its nut crops.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Tri County Sentry

Higher groundwater pumping fees are coming to Oxnard

The Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency … discussed reasons why the area will reduce pumping in the future to meet its sustainability goals as it moves toward 2040. Cities can expect considerable pumping fee increases per acre-feet of water and can have far-reaching effects on the local economy.

Aquafornia news ABC30

Drought tolerant crop being studied in the Valley

Big research is happening at the Kearney Agriculture and Extension Center in Fresno County. Sorghum, a crop that looks similar to corn, is under a microscope.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: East Coachella Valley residents, demand a cleaner environment

The state’s moves open up more opportunities for extension of drinking water service, operations and maintenance for domestic wells, and even demands action for Salton Sea conservation. The myriad issues east valley residents face are exacerbated by the public health impacts of the receding Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Newsom administration quietly stalls fracking permits

The administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom has imposed a de-facto moratorium on hydraulic fracturing while it studies permitting procedures for the politically controversial oil well-completion technique better known as fracking.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Camarillo officials celebrate groundbreaking for desalter plant

The groundbreaking ceremony was decades in the making for the North Pleasant Valley Groundwater Desalter Plant, which aims to convert brackish water from the Calleguas Creek watershed into potable water for the city of Camarillo.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Full water allotment helps Fresno County reach record crop value

Commodity prices across some crops, record cotton yields and ample water supplies combined to catapult Fresno County’s gross crop value to a record $7.88 billion in 2018, eclipsing last year’s figure by over 12 percent, and besting the previous record by nearly as much.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Opinion: Farms, the environment, and the future of water

If we don’t manage groundwater pumping, levels of groundwater as well as rivers and streams will decline, compromising the wildlife, farms and cities that depend on them. By managing our groundwater with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, we are plugging leaks in the system.

Aquafornia news KCET

Blog: Unquenchable thirst: Groundwater bill could shift state’s water management approach

Although its target was narrow — it was designed to undercut the capacity of Cadiz, Inc. to pump annually upwards of 16 billion gallons of groundwater in eastern San Bernardino County and sell it to ever-thirsty Southern California — the legislation may prove to be far-reaching in its consequences.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

2018 was a record-setting year for Fresno County farmers

Fresno County farmers and ranchers shattered the yearly record for the value of what they produced by nearly a billion dollars in 2018. Despite below-average surface water supplies, their crops and livestock totaled $7.888 billion last year, according to the Fresno County Department of Agriculture’s annual report released Tuesday.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Administration finalizes repeal of 2015 water rule Trump called ‘destructive and horrible’

On Thursday, the Trump administration plans to scrap the Obama-era definition of what qualifies as “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, returning the country to standards put in place in 1986. … EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the administration will finalize a new definition for which water bodies deserve federal protection within a matter of months…

Related article:

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Farmers are not to blame for Valley subsidence, but they can help solve it with water

Why do farmers pump the water under their land (which California law clearly states belongs to them) in the first place? Unfortunately, you’ll rarely read the answer to this question in the press, but it is the most important part of the story.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin assemblyman seeks to reform agency regulating oil, gas

Assemblyman Marc Levine’s bill to reform state energy extraction regulation has been approved by the Legislature. The legislation … would require state oil and gas extraction regulators to put public health and the environment ahead of increased industry development.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California regulators press Chevron for data on Cymric oil spills

Despite new California regulations banning surface spills in the state’s vast oil fields, at least eight spills connected to Chevron have occurred in just one Kern County oil field since the new rules took effect in April, state regulators say. The ”surface expression” spills have spewed more than 1.26 million gallons of oil and wastewater in five months, with some still not contained.

Related articles:

Announcement

Oct. 30 Water Summit to Feature Panel About Key Groundwater Issues as SGMA Deadline Approaches
Attend and learn how water managers are working toward sustainable groundwater management in California

With a key deadline for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in January, one of the featured panels at our Oct. 30th  Water Summit will focus on how regions around California are crafting groundwater sustainability plans and working on innovative ways to fill aquifers.

The theme for this year’s Water Summit, “Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning,” reflects critical upcoming events in California water, including the imminent Jan. 31, 2020 deadline for groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) in high- and medium-priority basins.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Ancient watering hole in Southern Arizona at risk from border wall construction

An ancient spring near Lukeville has slaked the thirst of desert travelers for centuries, but its days may be numbered as groundwater is pumped to build a 30-foot border wall.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Could wildfires be good for water availability?

Wildfires in California leave behind acres of scorched land that make snowpack formation easier and more water runoff downstream from the Sierra Nevada to basins in the Central Valley, increasing the amount of water stored underground. That’s the finding from researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who discovered that blazes in some parts of the state could result in more water availability.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Cleanup of cancer-causing toxins in Phoenix has been delayed for years

The water beneath a large swath of Phoenix isn’t fit to drink. A plume of toxic chemicals has tainted the groundwater for decades, and it’s now at the center of a bitter fight over how the aquifer should be cleaned up and what should happen to the water in the future.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Salinas Valley Basin draft plan proposes millions in projects

More than $670 million in water projects … are options under a draft plan for helping get the Salinas Valley Basin to sustainability by 2040. A draft Salinas Valley Basin groundwater sustainability plan includes 13 projects ranging from Salinas River invasive species eradication … to a seawater intrusion barrier using a series of wells to head off saltwater contamination …

Aquafornia news KPFA

Audio: Valley growers pin hopes on far-reaching San Joaquin Valley Blueprint

Valley farmers and water districts will be facing a new reality of pumping less water and are worried about the land that will be taken out of crop production. But the water and agriculture industries are drafting a large-scale plan to fill the gap with more dams and water deliveries from the Delta. Vic Bedoian reports from Fresno.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Audio: The Friant-Kern Canal is sinking. Thirty-mile parallel canal proposed

The Friant-Kern Canal, which delivers water to farms and communities on the east side of the Valley, is literally sinking in some areas due to groundwater pumping. And with one week to go before the California legislature wraps up its 2019 session, many hope the state will help fund the canal’s repair.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

New border wall could further deplete groundwater supplies

According to a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument has identified existing groundwater wells construction contractors can use. In addition, the contractor has proposed drilling new wells along the border for the wall project. Currently, the construction contractor estimates needing about 84,000 gallons of water per day for the project.

Aquafornia news Tri County Sentry

Groundwater workshop causes concern for Oxnard

Groundwater in Ventura County had a severe talk about reductions as the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency held its fourth workshop about the future. The proposed new plan will commence in 2020 and will start slow but will ramp up and reduce groundwater pumping in the area significantly.

Aquafornia news Colusa County Sun-Herald

Groundwater authority to host public workshops in Colusa and Glenn counties

The Colusa and Glenn groundwater authorities will host a pair of public workshops about local groundwater conditions and areas of concern in portions of Glenn and Colusa counties…

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Canal plans to bypass subsidence with 30-mile parallel path

As the old saying goes, if you can’t go through something, go around it. And at an estimated cost of $357 million, the Friant Water Authority is contemplating a 30-mile parallel canal to circumvent the portion of the Friant Kern Canal that has been negatively affected by subsidence.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot to be keynote speaker at Water Summit

Crowfoot oversees a sprawling agency of 19,000 employees engaged in the stewardship of the state’s forests and natural lands, rivers and waterways, coast and ocean, fish and wildlife and energy development. Now in its 36th year, the Water Summit features a variety of policymakers, experts and stakeholders discussing important topics in water across California and the West.

Aquafornia news Merced Sun-Star

Atwater wins $63 million in water pollution suit against oil giant Shell

A jury has ordered Shell Oil Company to pay the City of Atwater a total of $63 million in damages in a groundwater pollution suit. The decision, reached Friday after a four-month trial in Merced County Superior Court, awarded Atwater $53 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages, according to a news release from the city.

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Payments required for those who pump excess groundwater

Those with wells within the Antelope Valley who pump more groundwater than is allowed under a 2015 court settlement will be required to pay between $415 per acre-foot and $948 per acre-foot to replace the additional water, based on assessments approved Wednesday by the Antelope Valley Watermaster Board.

Aquafornia news ScienceDaily

A new way to measure how water moves

A new method to measure pore structure and water flow is described in a study published in the journal Water Resources Research. With it, scientists should be able to more accurately determine how fast water, contaminants, nutrients and other liquids move through the soil — and where they go.

Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

Woodland banking surplus winter water for use during summer

Woodland is sitting atop what is essentially an underground reservoir containing millions of gallons of freshwater. And for much of the past three years, the city has been banking excess water during the winter months to use during the summer when it isn’t allowed to make withdrawals from the Sacramento River.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Paso Robles groundwater basin included in high-tech Stanford study

The Paso Robles groundwater basin is one of three basins in the state chosen to participate in a Stanford University study that will deploy state-of-the-art aerial electromagnetic technology to better understand its characteristics.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Seaside wants to take golf course irrigation water and earmark it for housing

Under the plan, Seaside’s Bayonet & Black Horse golf course would stop pumping the 450 acre-feet of drinking water it draws every year from the area’s underground basin. Instead, the greens would get irrigated using recycled water produced by Pure Water Monterey, the advanced sewage treatment facility in Marina that is slated to open this fall. The water that stays in the basin would be made available to developers who want to build in Seaside.

Aquafornia news KESQ TV

Class action lawsuit takes aim at Coachella Valley Water District, claims illegal tax benefits agricultural industry

A new class action lawsuit accuses the Coachella Valley Water District of illegally taxing customers to benefit large agricultural companies. … Under the Burns-Porter Act, a local water district’s revenue can only be used for a few specific, voter-approved purposes. According to the suit, using tax dollars to fund aquifer replenishment and subsidizing agricultural water use are not appropriate uses. 

Aquafornia news KQED News

Environmentalists slam Chevron, state regulators over Kern County oil releases

Environmental groups are calling for increased scrutiny of California’s oil and gas industry after learning that more than 50 million gallons of crude oil flowed out of the ground in an uncontrolled release near a Chevron facility in Kern County over the last 16 years.

Aquafornia news Motley Fool

This water stock is now a play on cannabis — specifically, the U.S. hemp CBD market

Shares of water resource specialist Cadiz (NASDAQ:CDZI) have jumped 19.5% this month through Aug. 23, while the S&P 500, including dividends, is down 4.3%. … The catalyst for Cadiz stock’s August pop was the company’s announcement that it has entered the U.S. hemp market.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Environmental groups argue lands bill will exempt Las Vegas water pipeline from judicial review

Environmental groups are raising concerns over a provision in draft legislation they believe could exempt the Las Vegas pipeline — a proposal to pump eastern Nevada groundwater about 300 miles to Southern Nevada — from further litigation and federal environmental review.

Aquafornia news KQED News

State launches probe into oil field spills – including one that’s been flowing since 2003

State oil and gas regulators say they’re launching an investigation of operations in a Kern County oil field after a series of large, uncontrolled crude petroleum releases near Chevron wells — including one that has continued on and off for more than 16 years and may have spewed out more than 50 million gallons of crude oil.

Aquafornia news KHTS Radio

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: State Water Board strengthens notification requirements for potential carcinogen

The California State Water Resources Control Board has strengthened notification requirements for a potential carcinogen found in wells across the state, including Santa Clarita, officials said Monday. The state water board updated guidelines for local water agencies … to follow in detecting and reporting perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in drinking water.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Australian Broadcasting Corp.

California looks to Australia for ways to manage its groundwater after worst-ever drought

Farmers, experts and lawmakers are working to find more sustainable ways to droughtproof farms and address the vexed issue of water allocation. And it turns out many farmers and water experts in California are looking to Australia for answers as they face up to the biggest water reforms in the history of the US.

Aquafornia news KQED News

State says it has no idea how long it will take to clean up Chevron’s Kern County oil spill

While the massive release of crude petroleum from a Chevron oil well near the town of McKittrick seems to have ended, the timeline for hauling away soil contaminated by the spill is unclear. “The full extent of the required site remediation is not known at this time and will be fully scoped with appropriate regulatory agencies,” said Eric Laughlin, a spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife…

Aquafornia news Santa Clara Valley Water News

Blog: South County’s groundwater is getting a boost that will benefit farms, residents and businesses

South County gets most of its water from groundwater, so this project, part of the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2012, is vital to ensuring a reliable water supply for the region.

Aquafornia news Taft Midway Driller

Indian Wells groundwater authority approves well registration ordinance

All residents and organizations within the Indian Wells Valley will have to implement register their wells come Oct. 1 following the approval of an ordinance by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board of directors.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Kern spill renews oil production controversy

California has long been a top producer of oil. But that may change. Some hope that change will accelerate under Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has called for a decrease in the demand and supply of fossil fuels. A recent massive spill in Chevron’s Cymric oilfield in Kern County, about 35 miles west of Bakersfield, prompted a major regulatory shakeup and could bolster that view.

Aquafornia news Physics World

Changing the ground (water) rules

In 2014 California introduced the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) into state law to help manage the conflict between ground and surface water. But updating legal structures to accommodate evolving scientific knowledge involves far more than simply rewriting statutes, according to researchers in the US.

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